Eoin Morgan’s side made Pakistan pay for a sloppy batting display – there were three run outs in their 208 – although England still needed to survive a trial by spin to reel in the teasing total.
A century stand between man of the match James Taylor and Jos Buttler – after Alex Hales and Morgan put on 60 together – ensured there were no hiccups and means that the series can be won in Dubai on Friday.
Taylor played the lead role with an unbeaten 67 and with Buttler, who survived a missed stumping before he scored, expertly steadied nerves after Pakistan’s spinners threatened to alter the course of the contest as they found considerable turn and bounce.
Hales and Morgan both fell victim to vicious spin – the skipper bowled by a Shoaib Malik delivery that gripped significantly – before Taylor and Buttler both survived early nervy moments.
But after soaking up the early pressure they found a method to embark on an unbroken 117-run stand, from as many balls, to secure victory with nine over to spare.
Chris Woakes was the pick of England’s bowlers, returning back-to-back four-wicket hauls, although there was also some compliance about Pakistan’s batting in a below-par total.
The three run outs were chief amongst those – all three batsmen were not in the frame – while some ill-judged strokeplay offered England’s outfielders with catching practice.
Pakistan had got off to a healthy start as they cruised to 92 for one in the 20th over, but the needless run out of skipper Azhar Ali was a sign of things to come.
Taylor caused the confusion with a smart piece of fielding at backward point and from then on Pakistan’s batsmen lost their way – at one point losing six for 29.
England’s ability to slow the scoring rate in the middle overs was critical to that with Adil Rashid applying the clamps, in tandem with Moeen Ali, and he bowled a maiden to Mohammad Hafeez in the 24th over.
With Hafeez’s early fluency checked he then clubbed David Willey, who had just been brought back into the attack, to Joe Root in the deep before Sarfraz Ahmed followed in similar style to Moeen in the next over.
England were making their move and were given a helping hand by a second run out as Mohammad Rizwan inexplicably set off for a single when dropping to ball to Jason Roy at short midwicket.
Woakes and Reece Topley then picked up wickets to catches in the deep before Chris Jordan’s direct hit ran out Shoaib Malik at the non-striker’s end after another mix-up.
Wahab Riaz dragged Pakistan past 200 with an unbeaten 33, which included three sixes, but Woakes finished the innings a ball early when bowling Mohammad Irfan. The Warwickshire seamer again impressing as he finished with 4-40.
ngland’s chase got off to a rocky start, Roy and Root falling inside the first six overs, as Irfan’s seven-foot frame provoked some bounce out of the wicket.
Morgan took a blow to the back of his neck, which required a brief bit of medical attention, before the captain dug in for a 60-run stand alongside Hales.
As their stand grew the threat before them turned to spin as debutant left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar, in the side in place of the injured Yasir Shah, most significantly got the ball to grip.
He found Hales’ edge pressing forward and when Morgan was undone by Malik, Pakistan sensed England might wobble.
It might have been too as Buttler got his slice of luck on zero when Sarfraz missed a stumping while Taylor edged Zafar short of slip.
But the pair responded to the danger impressively with a counter-attack that relied on busy batsmanship.
Buttler employed the reverse sweep against Zafar to throw the left-armer off his line, picking up a pair of boundaries, while Taylor swept conventionally to get the scoreboard ticking over.
With the pressure shifting back on Azhar he brought himself on – his occasional leg-spin providing less of a threat – and by the time he then opted for the seamers Taylor and Buttler had found their groove as they accelerated to a match-winning stand.
Buttler completed the job with a powerful six over midwicket that also marked his return to form as he finished unbeaten on 49.